In a hot office in Stockport, with the Air Conditioning keeping me cool whilst working away on Oracle, Solaris and MySQL issues, I often think about how different life is in comparison to my time out in India. Since starting the IT job in 2006, I have learnt a wealth of detail about how to maintain a Linux system. I've learnt how the internet works, how it's all connected together, and have regularly been in a data-centre with thousands of servers, all storing and delivering information.
I've also travelled around the country, teaching and learning howto improve my maintenance and slowly improve systems to get the results that I require. I've made plenty of mistakes, but I've done them in a controlled manner and learnt from them. I've worked by myself for hours on end, and also worked in teams across multiple offices.
Some of the work I've done has been technical. As a Systems Administrator you would expect most of it to be of a technical nature; but much of the work has also been socio-political. How do you walk into an organisation and get them to change to a completely different system? How do you manage client expectation for the new service you're putting in? When things go wrong, how can you best serve the customer so they know that a) it's not going to happen again and b) they've got the best man in helping them through a shared problem?
I felt like my time in India was a bit of a crash-course in personal development. There were things I failed at, things I was good at, and things that inspired me. The biggest thing I learnt out there was the value of transferable skills. Much of what I do at the moment is seemingly irrelevant to any other job I would ever end up doing. However, that is not the case. I see lessons now that I know are going to be invaluable to me in the future, and I hope that I'll get to use them.
So if you're stuck working away at a problem that appears to have no other benefit, do a quick analysis of what you're actually doing, compare it to what you'd want to be doing, and look at the similarities. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how useful your seemingly irrelevant works are.